Bong – Beyond Ancient Space …   1 comment

‘Beyond Ancient Space’ is release number 23 for Bong in just 4 years. A crazy amount I agree and I think it is fair to say, not all of these releases have really cut the mustard but this band has been remarkably consistent in the last couple of years. First with ‘Bethmoora’ released in 2009 right up to ‘Live At Roadburn’ album released earlier this year. They really haven’t put a foot wrong in the last 2 years and this new studio album is perhaps their most solid recording yet. Titled ‘Beyond Ancient Space’ it sounds like it was recorded with no overdubs and the absolute minimum of editing as it sounds incredibly live and off-the-cuff for the most part. The end result is a feeling of immediacy which makes you feel you are right there in the studio with the band melting your eardrums. While people are still going ga-ga over Electric Wizard and similar newer acts, it is strange and also sad that Bong is still not seen as a major player in the doom scene. Personally speaking, I feel their music is far more vital and important than EW and certainly more up-to-date than say, Saint Vitus. This is the doom sound for the future and Bong are the pioneers of it but not many people have caught onto it as yet especially in the USA.

‘Beyond Ancient Space’ is made up of 3 songs that are simply monstrous and intensely immersive. While these sick jams are obviously planned out, you have the feeling they are being controlled by some other un-human force. The songs take on a life of their own and seem to mutate themselves into something different every-time you decide to give it a spin. The album begins with ‘Onward to Perdóndaris’ which seems to take forever to launch itself when you first hear it. The slow-motion build up is torturous and lethargic and it is like the musical equivalent of pulling teeth. The guitars push out a seething dose of psychedelic drones and absolutely captivating doom ambience. The use of the sitar sound gives the track a otherworldly 60’s acid-rock vibe but I think hippies would have died if this diabolical noise had of existed in the in the peace and love era. The music of Bong is a total escape from reality that sucks the soul out of doom, drone and sludge but it is done with a sense of purpose and meaning. They are not just making monotonous droning doom , these songs build, progress, and are forever pushing to new sonic excesses. ‘Onward to Perdóndaris’ is a great opening track, the first 5 to 10 minutes of this album alone is worth the album’s purchase price.

Next up is ‘Across The Time-Stream’ and this one is less psychedelic but more filthy, blackened and raw. The sound of the guitar is so black it makes most black-metal bands sound like sugar-coated pop but whats more important is the devastating atmosphere that is unleashed. The feeling you get from this track is one of total loneliness and a life destroyed. There is no hope left and suicide could be the only option left – ‘Across The Timestream’ is seriously bleak. The last of the 3 songs, ‘In The Shadow Of The Towers’ further throws you down a big black hole with extended crushing intensity. The Bong formula (if there is one) is not tampered with and they don’t vary the sound too often or their song-structures but this album is mesmerizing right up to its last seconds of THC laced jams. I guess you could call this narcotic doom but there is also a ‘Om’ kind of mysticism attached to it. While the album is full of smokey atmospheric dope-loving heaviness, there is also a heavy psychedelic edge to this band. The album is immersive, hypnotic, ominous, and is relentless at showing remarkable restraint with its instrumentation.

You always feel like the album is about to shoot off in another direction but it never does and it’s that controlled hypnotic power of devastation that is so captivating. Any sense of enlightenment is very soon crushed by the bands oscillating plodding drones. But here is where most people wont get through half of this album. ‘Beyond Ancient Space’ is almost 80 minutes long with the shortest track being ‘Across the Timestream’ which runs for a staggering bleak 25:03 of repetitive misery. The bands habit, (good or bad depending how you hear it)  is to play the same thing for an exhausting amount of time before making any variation, tempo or riff change and this can be rather exhausting to listen to. I am a huge Bong fan so for me this is par for the course but some folks will be driven to insanity by the time the 25:33 minutes of ‘Onward to Perdóndaris’ is over and done with and I doubt if many people will feel like taking it any further. So it’s up to you, are you up to the challenge? I am and I think this album is a masterpiece but I also know I will be in the minority……….9/10

Bong @ Myspace
BongDoom.co.uk

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Posted May 2, 2011 by doommantia in Bong

One response to “Bong – Beyond Ancient Space …

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  1. The majority of those 23 releases are the result of some crazy guys from Blyth who suddenly decided to start recording every gig in & around Newcastle of all the underground music going on – hardcore, metal, noise, experimental, experimental noise metal, etc – and then handing out CDRs of the recordings at the next gig, with the result that Newcastle's underground scene is probably one the most documented around. Most of the musicians are in half a dozen other bands at any one time, too.

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